Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE

Directed by George Lucas (1977, 20th Century Fox)
Starring Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Alec Guinness

A farm boy and a rogue rescue a princess from the evil Empire as the Rebellion attempt to destroy a superweapon: the Death Star.

 

 

5 stars

August 21st, 2016 on Blu Ray, for the 81st time  
   

In addition to bringing this movie, finally, to my youngest son, this is the first time I've seen it since The Force Awakens came out. Instead of moving along at a roller-coaster pace, this movie takes its time to introduce us to the characters and the story, which actually makes sense. I've poked fun at some of the things that don't make sense in this movie, but most of it can be forgiven, as there are no gaping holes, nor are there any any movie clichés that drive the story forward at the expense of the logical flow. Best of all, however, is that it  doesn't blatantly copy from its predecessor.

 

 

5 stars

August 18th, 2014 on Blu Ray, for the 80th time  
   

I can't believe I've reached 80 views!!!!! Wow!!!! There is just something comfortable about this movie. The story moves along at a brisk pace, but everything that happens is important. The dialog is especially snappy and clean, with no unnecessary comedy. Some of it doesn't fit in with the prequels, but that's okay. And if the lightsaber battle isn't as flashy compared to the one in Revenge of the Sith, it's still somehow amazing. If we are looking for issues in this movie, which I am not (!), the biggest problem, I think, is all the timing. The time it takes to get the Death Star around Yavin is dictated by storytelling, of course. There is the time it takes to get to Alderaan (a mere minutes -is that what Han had in mind when he gave their ETA? Funny, but the rest of the story is so well told that none of that matters.

 

 

5 stars

December 30th, 2013 on Blu Ray, for the 79th time  
   

When I was young and got sick, this was the movie that would go into the VCR to keep me occupied as I recovered, home from school. Lucky me. Now, as I was watching this movie again, I was healthy, but the rest of the family was sick. They were in bed, while I got to watch Star Wars. And it was really, really good -again.

 

 

5 stars

April 21st, 2012 on Blu Ray, for the 78th time  
   

I don't remember this movie being so vibrant and colorful before. Is this because of the Blu-Ray, or because of my poor memory? I was rather distracted at times just by the color and detail visible in the scenes. It was truly amazing!

This was also my older son's first time seeing Star Wars, and he was full of questions and comments. I think his second time will be quieter! It shows the difference between the generation that grew up with the prequels, and the older generation, who really did think that Vader murdered Luke's father. My son, on the other hand, flat out stated that Obi-Wan was wrong. It's hard to explain to such a young mind the concept that adults will lie to protect them from harsh truths that they are not prepared to accept.

As usual, the movie was fantastic. We don't really need the flash of the prequels, though it is fun in its own right. This is actual storytelling, and it's not only terrific, but it's beautiful, as well.

 

 

5 stars

March 11th, 2011 on DVD, for the 77th time  
   

It's been too long since I've watched Star Wars. It seems that every time I do, I'm amazed all over again. After a "bang!" start, the movie slows down to show us the universe through the eyes of the two droids. The detail was immense, in everything, especially on Tatooine. The only overly-long setups to scenes were the extended entry into Mos Eisley and approaching Yavin, both of which were added in the Special Edition. But the dialog remains snappy, and if the lightsaber fight isn't as exciting physically as it could be, the dialog is, because we know these two were good friends, and what they lost. The words between them are harsh, but not delivered harshly, which is a very interesting combination.

 

 

5 stars

September 4th, 2009 on DVD, for the 76th time  

 

5 stars

July 20th, 2007 on DVD, for the 75th time  
   

I was thinking a lot about Attack of the Clones while watching this movie, especially the beginning, on Tatooine. I liked the way Lucas linked these two movies, with the dialog between Owen, Beru and Luke. Everything from Episode II's Tatooine section comes into the subtext here (although I suppose it really works the other way around). Then, of course, the short lightsaber duel between Vader and Obi-Wan reflects back to Revenge of the Sith. I watch this lightsaber duel more for the dialog than for the fight, which pales in comparison with the prequel fights, of course. Also, watch Ben's eyes when when he says "I don't remember ever owning a droid; very interesting". Is he trying to remember? In his time of exile, do the Clone Wars years start eluding him (or are perhaps intentionally submersed)? Is he wondering how R2D2 could possibly have survived for so long? Of course, now that we know he learned how to disappear from Qui-Gon, there is a whole other level to his phantom voice. Vader knows something is up, also, as he pats at Obi-Wan's robe. We know he learns the path to immortality by Return of the Jedi, but how did he do it?

This is also the first time I've really noticed that the opening crawl states that the rebellion has won its very first battle against the Empire. I still find that very hard to believe, as I've stated in other book reviews. Still, even given that statement as truth, the battle preceding this movie, whether as described in Rebel Dawn, the Star Wars Radio dramatization or elsewhere, do it no justice whatsoever.

 

 

5 stars

September 21st, 2004 on DVD, for the 74th time  
   

Breathtaking; just breathtaking. As if this movie couldn't get any better, the DVD just gives us amazing video and sound quality. There were so many things that I hadn't noticed before, especially in the sounds. Imagine: after so many times, this movie still holds something new!

Speaking of new, that seems to be the foremost thing on people's minds when they see this DVD version -should we call it Special Edition 2 -DVD? I never really talked about what I liked and didn't like in the special editions of these movies. Now, there are even more changes.

The major complaint I have about the special edition footage is that it makes the introductions too long. Most scene-setting shots are a couple of seconds. We get a short clip of the sandcrawler before going inside. There is a TIE fighter passing the Death Star before we go there. Before we get to the escape pod, however, there is about ten seconds of transition time as we watch troopers walk around the desert! The entry into Mos Eisley is similarly long as a scene-establishing shot. The other establishment shot is the Falcon arriving at Yavin IV, which was also way too long. It looks like they were so long only to show off what they could do. I don't really like or dislike the actual shots either way, but I wish they had been cut down.

Greedo shooting at Han also never bothered me, except that Greedo's shot looks funny going so wide. That was fixed here, and the books do a good job at telling us why Greedo was such a bad shot -he was really bad at everything he did. I've always liked Jabba's scene with Han afterward, and Jabba was improved in this version -though again, I thought the original SE Jabba looked fine, except when Han walks over his tail. That has also been fixed here.

I liked the vibrant lightsaber blades in this edition -they really stood out. I've also always liked the new shockwave blast as the Death Star exploded. But although the shots of the X-wings approaching and fighting at the Death Star look spectacular, I do miss the original shots, and don't see the necessity of the changes made. However, when the X-Wings launch from Yavin IV, as fighters rather than blips of light, they look terrific. Similarly, the Falcon's new launch out of Mos Eisley was really cool.

Some of the changes that I've noticed people talking about online are not real changes at all. People have been so eager to find changes that they've missed entire scenes, which they say are missing -but which are indeed not. Others interpret scenes as new only because of the tremendous increase in quality of the sound or video. One sound that I am convinced has been altered, though it may also be an example of better audio track, is Obi-Wan's krayt dragon call -wow, is that great.

Among all the changes that were made for the special editions, there are many occurrences where I wondered why changes were not made. The most glaring one is the the grey boxes surrounding so many TIE fighters, especially during the Falcon's escape from the Death Star. I was led to understand that these were artefacts of the VHS transfer, which means that they should not be visible on the DVD -but they are. That seems like a much better place to make alterations to the movie than even the lightsaber blades. Another is the mismatched audio track when Vader says "I told you she would never consciously betray the rebellion" -his hands move in traditional Vader manner only after he completes these lines.

A New Hope received the bulk of the changes in the Special Editions, but the changes for the DVD version are much more subtle. I had always been missing, in my original VHS versions, C3PO's lines about the tractor beam, so it was nice to have them added to the special edition, and they still feel new to me. But the language on the tractor beam was also changed from English, which is cool, but not really necessary, especially given the array of numbers that we see in so many other scenes, like the Death Star screen approaching Yavin IV, and the X-Wing targeting screens.

I must also comment on the cases and artwork for the DVDs. The trilogy case is very flimsy, and will undoubtedly bend and break given enough time. Why didn't we get a nice sturdy cardboard case like the one for the Indiana Jones movies? The artwork was reasonable on the outer case, and I like movie art, so the individual cases and discs themselves were nice, especially the original movie artwork on the disks. The chapter inserts had hideous abstract art on it that I find inexcusable, given the amount of great Star Wars art in existence. Yuck.

The Empire of Dreams documentary was really good- not perfect, but really good. The part describing Star Wars and its development was by far the best, but went by so fast that it seemed superficial. I really liked seeing all the behind-the-scenes footage, and especially different cuts of familiar scenes, without the music or many sound effects. The documentary didn't tell me much that was new, but it was impressively made. The Empire and Jedi sections, however, were not as well done, with way too much movie footage instead of new stuff. I really wish we could see more like the Marc Hamill-hosted documentary we got when Star Wars first premiered on TV, or the Star Wars to Jedi documentary that I have on video.

The smaller featurettes were mostly forgettable. The Characters, Lightsabers, and Legacy of Star Wars told us a little about the evolution of the saga as a whole, both in terms of story and of technology. Very little of it was new, and there wasn't nearly enough behind-the-scenes material to justify watching them more than once. The "Legacy" featurette managed to milk the popularity of Peter Jackson, however! The Return of Darth Vader feature was also quite "fluffy", with no real meat to it, and not even material enough to properly whet the appetite.

The theatrical trailers and TV spots were typical, but fun to watch. The SW teaser was pretty funny, as described in the documentary, they didn't know how to market it. By the time it came around to the re-release, they did a much better job, and didn't even give away too much plot. Oddly, the photo gallery had a lot of stuff I'd never seen before, and I quite enjoyed the captions that accompanied them. The game previews were more one-time views, as I am not really interested in them, though it must have been really neat to have the real cast and crew on hand to show the gamers how to battle with lightsabers.

It occurred to me that a lot of the special features on this disk would be obsolete by next May. We will know all about Darth Vader, and the video games and DVD content will be uninteresting after the movie and games have been released. I would have liked to see "timeless" documentaries, but I suppose there will be at least one more release of this trilogy at some time. I've heard rumors about a 30th anniversary edition of A New Hope, and there will likely be a six movie boxed set at some time, so maybe we'll get better stuff then. I can't figure out how each of the prequel movies can get two discs, while this whole trilogy gets one single bonus disk. It's not like the material isn't out there.

 

 

5 stars

October 30th, 2003 on Video, for the 73rd time  
   

Why do I keep watching this movie? Because it is terrific, and it makes me feel like I am in a very familiar place. Having seen this movie so many times, I could probably recite it line by line. I even remember where the original commercial breaks were from the time I taped it from TV, since that was my only access to the movie for so long.

I have a friend who likes to help me pick apart movies, and one day we decided that we were being unfair to the other films by not picking apart our favorite, so we decided to figure out if we had the courage to do so. We didn't talk about the normal stuff, like the technical aspects, the way matte lines were visible, and so on. We talked about story.

My main nitpick was about the timing of so many scenes. How the heck does the disguised Luke get to the control room in the Death Star from the Millennium Falcon so fast, when the others were already standing at the door before he descended the ramp?

Similarly, how did Luke manage to get down the trash compactor slide, attempt to get out, and fire a round of ricochet laser blasts at the door, before Han even lands? Han jumped in bare seconds after Luke did.

I often wondered how long after the Battle of Yavin the medal ceremony took place, as there were a lot of pilots in that room. I hope they arrived after the battle, or that there were a lack of ships, because otherwise what were they doing while Biggs and the others were dying?!?

The great things about this film totally outweigh any nitpicks. The best part about it is the interaction between the characters. Just focusing on the looks they give each other, they don't even have to say much to be understood. Take Chewie, for example. When Luke mentions money to Han before going to rescue the Princess, Chewie knows right away where this is going. He has so many other facial expressions, such that we don't need to know what he is saying to understand him. I look forward to seeing him in Episode III.

Obi-Wan's pained expression during the negotiations in Mos Eisley with Han is truly hilarious, as he is recalling how to be tolerant of others after being away from people for so long! Tarkin also has some great facial expressions, the best one being concern and shock when asked about evacuating.

After seeing Attack of the Clones, I have a few thoughts about its relationship with this movie. Obi-Wan obviously doesn't remember R2D2 and C3PO, having had many droids serve him under the Jedi Council. I don't think he really "owned" anything, though. I wonder how many memory wipes R2 has had, and if he remembers Obi-Wan. The look that passes between Owen and Beru takes on new meaning here, even after the single incident from Episode II: Luke does have a lot of his father in him, especially impatience.

I believe the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan will deteriorate further in Episode III, a continuation of Anakin's "he's holding me back" from Attack of the Clones. Nearly twenty years later, it is easy to see the animosity between the two as they show down for the last time. Vader must have studied why Obi-Wan disappeared after their battle, in order to be able to do it during Return of the Jedi. Since that sort of thing was a mystery to even Yoda in Attack of the Clones, the Emperor apparently didn't discover it, either. Vader obviously knew something was different in the way that Obi-Wan died, and apparently figured it out. Interesting.

I just love this movie, even though there are some potential "defects", and the fact that the new movies are nowhere near as good as these ones. Of course, I am biased... Despite what George Lucas says, this movie appeals more to adults even more than twelve year olds: there are a lot more subtleties here than in the prequels.

 

 

5 stars

February 6th, 2002 on Video, for the 72nd time  
   

When I was young, and I got sick, this was the movie I would spend the afternoon watching, which explains why the number of viewings (above) is so high.  It would always pick up my spirits, and made me feel at home.  Well, this week, I had a nasty head cold, was very tired, but I also got tired of sleeping, so I put in Star Wars.  And it was awesome.  

The true test of the worth of a movie, as far as I'm concerned, is if it can be considered great under poor circumstances.  Star Wars never fails to deliver.  With its logical plotline, its fantastic sets and spaceships, not to mention its special effects, it is a true gem.  No wonder it has developed such a following!

This is the first time I've seen A New Hope since The Phantom Menace came out in theatres.  I decided to watch the entire series again before Attack of the Clones arrives.  I wondered what made this movie so different from the newer one, so much better.  The effects were breakthrough at the time, the story was about the discovery of a lethal new weapon, and the development of a new Force-user, one who could become powerful.  All of this is the same in the new film.  

I think the difference lies in the style.  Necessity made Star Wars into a film that had to be shot with a fixed camera angle.  The effects wouldn't work otherwise.  I think the reason the new Special Edition footage of the escape pod and entering Mos Eisley stands out so much is because they move so much like today's films do.  In contrast, the SE Jabba scene does not stand out as much, even though it had CG effects in it, too.

Unfortunately, I think I like the locked-down camera angles better.  But I doubt they are coming back.  Filmmakers like the new, unencumbered style of letting the camera move wherever they want it.  I think I prefer to see the action develop from a fixed point of view.  Compare the scenes where the X-wings are attacking the Death Star.  In the SE footage, we get a single shot that follows the front-view of the x-wings and pans to the rear-view.  That is really neat.  But I like better the scenes of the x-wings and TIE fighters diving towards the surface, where they are obviously in formation, which was dictated by the computer-controlled camera.  

Both battle scenes, when the Millennium Falcon escapes the Death Star, and the assault on the battle-station at the end, as well as the opening scene above Tatooine, were amazing.  There were no slow spots at all, and the characters go through an entire range of emotions.  It was too bad to see Owen and Beru die; fortunately, we will get to see how they lived in Episode II.  

I can even see some of the likeness between this older Obi-Wan Kenobi and the younger one seen in The Phantom Menace. From what I have seen in the prequel books, so far, Anakin was never really a "good friend" to Obi-Wan.  I guess time dulls the emotions, as Obi-Wan also seems to have freed himself of the emotions of the betrayal of his student.  

It was also interesting how much of the story comes through the point of view of the droids.  I had never noticed that before.  They are obviously in the prequels, but they don't get many scenes.  The humor between them is absolutely hilarious, without ever once being over the top.  This is the way to do comedy, really.  I don't hate Jar-Jar Binks, but I am not fond of out-and-out comedy in my SF.  Subtle, like this, is better.

And after watching Attack of the Clones, I am sure we will get even more insight into the classic trilogy.  I can't wait.

 

 

5 stars

May 2nd, 1999 on Video, for the 71st time  
    This was like viewing the movie on the big screen -on Jo's dad's new 51-inch TV.  This is a great primer for The Phantom Menace.  Full blast, full screen and great movie.  

 

5 stars

September 5th, 1997 on Video, for the 70th time  
    Star Wars Special Edition! WOW!!!! The new scenes were incredible, but even without them, the movie was great back on the big screen. And now on video with those same scenes!  It's still great.  
   

Back to Top

All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.